Texas Frightmare Weekend Film Festival - Night One -
Wednesday April 28, 2010. Dallas, TX -
Evan ODell

The first night of Texas Frightmare Weekend kicked-off with the film festival portion. I was on hand to document the event. They played three feature length films and one short. That’s a lot of time to sit on my butt, but here’s my take on the films they were showing this evening.

Frozen (2010) Written and directed by Adam Green. Starring Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, and Kevin Zegers.

This is the third horror film from the director of Hatchet and it serves well to show his maturity as a filmmaker. I like that it shies away from the kind of silly humor that punctuated Hatchet. Not that it’s humorless, just that the humor serves the movie better.

Best friends Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Joe (Shawn Ashmore) hit the slopes with Dan’s girlfriend, Parker (Emma Bell). But when they get stuck on the lift, more than fifty feet off the ground, a whole five days before the park opens again, they’re S.O.L. and none of their options are what you’d call good.

I think the story works for the most part. At 94 minutes, it never felt long. Though it might have been improved if the running time was just a bit less. Of course part of that is going to depend on whether you like the characters and engage with their plight. Part of it always comes back to the acting, though the actors are convincing enough.

Honestly, the story, with its limited setting, reminds me a bit of Open Water. It has the same feeling of dread. Though, there are no waves to give you motion sickness in this movie. Since nature, isolation, and heights are the big bad, this plays out more like a thriller than an out-and-out horror. But you still get some of the red stuff. I believe it was this movie I enjoyed the most this evening.

- NIGHT TWO: Survival of the Dead

- 2001 Maniacs, Field of Screams

Danse Macabre (2009) Directed by Pedro Pires. Conceptualized by Robert Lepage. Starring Anne Bruce Falconer.

From the Synopsis: For a period of time, while we believe it to be perfectly still, lifeless flesh responds, stirs and contorts in a final macabre ballet. Are these spasms merely erratic motions or do they echo the chaotic twists and turns of a past life?

This movie is rather beautiful. Truly a work of art. It reminded me of Nacho Cerda’s short, Aftermath, which served to cheapen death by a series of defilements to the corpse in a morgue. This works as a brilliant counterpoint by elevating death to a thing of beauty with excellent use of choreography to a classical music piece. Only 9 minutes long.

Shadow (2009) Directed by Federico Zampaglione. Written by Federico Zampaglione, Domenico Zampaglione, and Giacomo Gensini. Starring Jake Muxworthy and Karina Testa.

David (Jake Muxworthy) is a soldier home from Iraq, who goes mountain biking in a remote part of Europe in order to relieve the stress . A chance encounter with a girl, Angeline (Karina Testa), at a pub called The Shadow, sets them off to be hunted for sport by local (what’s the equivalent to rednecks in Europe) backwoods thugs. But they may all be in for a surprise when something worse awaits them.

This movie starts off well enough. In English in spite of being an Italian production. Some of the character’s bone headed decisions along the way may frustrate you… The great European bogey man, the Nazi, rears it’s ugly head at one point, to keep things interesting, if slightly confusing. A third act twist though makes the questions unimportant… If you like Italian horror, you could certainly do far worse. Me, I thought it was just okay.

Long Pigs (2007) Written and directed by Nathan Hines and Chris Power. Starring Anthony Alviano, Nathan Hines, and Chris Power.

Two “filmmakers” (Nathan Hines and Chris Power ) make a documentary about a valet parker, Anthony McAlistar (Anthony Alviano), they work with who happens to be a cannibalistic serial killer. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also rather likeable.

The movie was shot on standard def, 4:3. Which could explain why the digital copy we were watching looked a little washed out. The standard def 4:3 picture works, much like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s 16mm film serves the story there rather well. That may be part of the reason I liked it well enough, though it probably has more to do with the likeable schmo serial killer played by Alviano. I’m not sure if the filmmakers have seen Man Bites Dog or Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. If you have, you may see the inevitable twist coming. Pretty good for an extremely low cost, independent production.

I kinda wish the film had asked some of the hard questions, like at what point does it become a moral obligation for the filmmakers to set down the camera and act in defense of life? That never happens, and it seems as if the filmmakers suggest a victim at one point. Though they do abstain from eating the flesh. The only “Voice of Reason” is the local talk radio deejay.


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